K-1 Visas Explained
What is it?The K-1 visa or fiance visa as it is commonly called is a visa that allows a US citizen to bring his or her fiance to the US for the purpose of marriage.
Who qualifies?In order to qualify for a K-1 visa you need to meet certain requirements. Some of those requirements include:
-US citizenship of the petitioner. LPRs cannot apply for K-1 visas.
-Financial ability to sponsor the immigrant (income over 125% of the poverty line unless you are in the military)
-In Person meeting within the last 2 years (unless you can prove hardship)
-You cannot have filed a K-1 fiance visa within the past year nor exceeded the limit on K-1 filings
Grounds for DenialThe following is a list of potential issues that USCIS or the State Department may consider as evidence of a fraudulent marriage.
-Age differences over 10 years - especially where to women is older
-History of multiple previous divorces
-Language barriers - lack of a common language
-Lack of proof of a relationship
-Fiance's home country
-Speed of relationship - i.e. you just met 2 weeks ago and now are filing for a visa
Other factors sch as your fiance's previous immigration history in the US (i.e. deporations, home stay requiements, etc.), criminal history, drug use, etc. can impact the ability to get a visa..
How long will it take?The K-1 visa process involves several steps. First, you have to gather the information and supporting documents. Then, you complete the forms. Then, you file the petition with USCIS. Suprisingly, this part of the process can be time-consuming, especially where foreign documents like divorce decrees or birth certificates are missing. So, the initial step can take anywhere from an afternoon to a few months if documents are missing. Once the petition is filed the general processing time is less than 5 months for the initial approval. You can check processing times at www.uscis.gov for a current estimate. Once the petition is approved, it is forwarded on to the NVC and then depending on the country the NVC either forwards the petition to the consulate or takes the consular paperwork directly for the consulate. The consular part normally takes 2-4 months. So, overall processing times for the K-1 visa are likely around 5-10 months.
What is the cost?The filing fee currently is $455.00 (but check www.uscis.gov) for the most current fee schedule. There will also be fees for the medical examination (roughly $130), the visa issuance fee (depends on the country but normally around $150.00-$200), and other fees for obtaining police certificates, original documents, translations, etc. The average attorney fees start around $1000 and go up depending on the complexity of the case, experience of the attorney, etc. The other issue to factor into the cost is that once your fiance enters the country s/he must adjust status to be able to legally remain in the US. AOS is $1010 for the filing fee, so you should plan to save this money from the inception.